One-day GC B-level, 17 June: Peter Adams (Caversham) One-day GC C-level, 4 July: Peter Allan (Harwell and Blewbury) AC Advanced Weekend, 18-19 July: Robin Brown (Blewbury) One-day Short Croquet, 8 August: Tim Lacey-Hulbert (Kington Langley) AC C-level Advanced Weekend, 29-30 August: Aston Wade (Hamptworth)
All-England Handicap (GC): National finalists David Vincent, John Garnett Berkshire Handicap (AC): Anthony Hardwicke
The Founder’s Cup is one of our oldest club trophies. It was originally the Chairman’s Cup, presented by Jolyon Kay, the first Chairman, and founder of the club. It’s played for under the conditions of level play advanced Association Croquet, so the pool of potential winners is usually rather small. Jolyon used to invite those who would compete for it each year. Still, it’s a challenge for the mere mortals among us.
The cup was re-named the Founder’s Cup when the Chairmanship changed.
This year we played on Saturday 10 October, much later in the season than usual. Robin Brown started as the clear favourite, both on form and on the rankings, and didn’t disappoint, winning all his games and taking the tankard home with him – not for the first time!
Round 1: Robin beat Paul +24, Nick beat Deirdre, and Joe beat Avril.
Round 2: Robin beat Nick, Joe beat Paul +25, and Deirdre and Avril wisely settled for a draw at equal hoops after long play out in the cold.
Final: Robin beat Joe +26tp in double-quick time.
Sadly, we couldn’t manage the usual tournament lunch under present restrictions.
This is the Club’s annual One-ball tournament, meant to be played in a spirit of relaxed enjoyment rather than red-blooded competition. That’s not to say that the players don’t try to win! It’s usually played around mid-summer, but in this topsy-turvy year was held up until October, and became the final event of our full croquet season. Whether everyone was seizing their opportunity to get one last competition in, or the bracing autumnal weather was irresistible, we don’t know, but 22 members entered this year, surely a record.
Because of the numbers, play was split across two weekends. On the first Sunday morning we played in two separate pools of six, all playing all in each pool, ending up in these respective orders:
Pool 1: Minty Clinch, Sue Jenkins, Steve Fisher, Paul Wolff, Andy Robertson, Sandy Millikin.
Pool 2: Edmund Shirley, Peter Allan, Deirdre Cochrane, Rosemary Balsdon, Susan Tilbrook, June Wolff.
After brown-bag lunches and an exchange of groups, the following final top order was reached at the end of the first day’s play: Edmund, Peter, Paul, Deirdre, Steve, Minty.
The next Saturday morning saw the second ten of the 22 entrants play in two pools of five, finishing in these orders:
Pool 3: Nick Butler, Dave Grinstead, Brian Jamieson, Joe King, Carol Wadsworth.
Pool 4: David Long, John Garnett, Carol Jamieson, Robin Brown, Avril Rangoni-Machiavelli.
It ought to be said that the 1-ball handicapping system is very hard on A-class players. Robin’s handicap was -6, Nick’s -4, and Joe’s -3, so giving away up to 8 bisque turns in 13-point games was a bit of a challenge for them at times.
The wind was getting up, the rain was coming down – but a mere gale-blown drizzle – and after lunch a system of repechage eliminated Carol and Brian out of the top three from each of the moring pools, leaving Nick, John, David and Dave to play quarter-final games against Deirdre, Peter, Paul and Edmund respectively from the previous Sunday. Then David beat Dave and Peter beat Nick in the two semis played between the quarter-final winners.
In the ultimate final we watched two croquet players dressed as white-hooded pixies battle it out against the elements and each other. David Long beat Peter Allan 13-11, and deservedly carried home the triumphal shield. – David had lost his first game of the morning, but won every other game after that little warm-up. By an almost exclusively Golf Croquet player, it was a remarkable feat at an AC game.
Next year we plan to revert to Summer for the Roger Cambray Memorial Shield.
This is the re-titled Blewbury version of this year’s AC All-England Handicap, which was cancelled at National level, but not before we had collected ten individual entries from Blewbury and other nearby clubs. So we decided to play the Blewbury local heat anyway, for the players’ benefit.
The event was played in two American blocks – that’s all-play-all in a block – and the top two in each block qualified for a decider, played as two semi-finals followed by a final and a third-place play-off on Sunday, 13th September. Anthony Hardwicke was the first winner of the Berkshire Handicap, beating Peter Allan +6 in the final and taking home the trophy, which had previously been competed for as the Blewbury and Harwell Weekend Handicap Cup.
In the third-place play-off, the closest of games, Brian Jamieson beat Deirdre Cochrane +1.
In the semi-finals, Anthony had beaten Brian +9, and Peter won +22 against Deirdre. The final standings in the block stage had been as shown below.
The places were decided primarily on number of wins, but if that wasn’t enough, tie-breakers were applied in this sequence until a definite order is reached: who beat whom; net hoops scored; total hoops scored; and as the ultimate incentive, whoever first reported their final game result to the manager.
Controlled roll-up GC sessions are now available on Tuesday and Friday afternoons from 1.30-3.30. You will still have to register your intent on the booking calendar, both to allow required logging/tracing, and to ensure that no more than 10 people turn up for any such session. With a max. of 4 players allowed on each court, and potentially 10 people on the premises, priority for play should always be given to anyone “sitting out” during the previous game.
We also now allow double-banked singles play, both during those roll-up sessions and at other times. Again, all names must be shown on a booking, and – outside the roll-up sessions – a 2nd pair may only use the court with the permission of the first pair booking it.
To avoid crowding, the number of people simultaneously allowed on club premises remains limited to 10. Double-banked doubles is still not allowed. Nor is there any change in the use of catering or waste facilities in the clubhouse – the kitchen area is decommissioned so we don’t get relays of members trying to use kettles or the fridge in that small space, and you must take home all the waste paper and food or drink containers that you brought with you or generated while at the club – please just remember to bring your own takeaway waste bag with you every time you come, and take it away when you go.
We all know that the rules, regulations and guidance keep changing, yet the club is keeping up as best we can. Our latest set of guidelines, which we must treat as binding, are here on this web site. They are intended to be self-contained and consistent with current Government and Croquet Association advice.
Please take the time to read through them.
The one significant change from previous advice is that Club members may now invite guests to play, provided always that the rules about guests are followed. These are:
guests may only play at off-peak times, outside the peak 1:30-5:30 periods on Mondays through Fridays;
you must include your guests’ names in your court booking;
you must make sure your guests know the rules too, and follow them;
you must pay the guest fee of £5 per guest per session to the club, by bank transfer if you possibly can, and tell the Treasurer, preferably by email, what your payment is for.
On Wednesday 17 June, we held our one-day GC B-level tournament, level play for those with handicaps of 3 and higher. The CA’s tournament guidance had been published a few days earlier; we thought we might have been the first club to go with it – as it turned out, we were the second. Social distancing was the order of the day, and we kept entries down to just six players, though at least twice that number had originally signed up to play.
With staggered start times and no double-banking on either court, the games were all played at a good rate, with just two players waiting to go on as soon as one court was vacated. Each player had been given their own labelled chair well distanced from its neighbours, to use as their base station; and either luckily or by Steve Fisher’s good management, the final game was not only the deciding match of the tournament, pitting Bridget Goodman of Ealing against Caversham’s Peter Adams, but it was a close struggle that went to hoop 13 before Peter finally prevailed 7-6 and took the prize just before the late afternoon rain began.
We expect our next tournament to be the GC C-level equivalent, for handicaps 7+, on Saturday 4 July, and the playing format to be very similar.
Note: The original Newsletter was circulated to Members by email on 31st January. The text now published here has been edited to remove some personal data, as well as the lawns report now published separately on this site.
Here are some short reports and updates from various Committee members.
CLUB SOCIAL – Friday 7th February, East Hagbourne Hall
A reminder that tickets are still available for our quiz night social. Tickets £10 in advance (£12 on the door) from David Long. Friends & family welcome, but feel free to come on your own and be put onto a table with other club members. Soft drinks and ploughman’s supper included in the entry fee. Wines available. Doors open 6.30; quiz starts 7.15.
Internal Communications working group
Your Committee has asked Steve to convene a working group to make improvements to communication within the club. The first task of the group will be to find out what you, the members, want to send and receive – and how. An email will be going out very soon; please consider it carefully and respond. The group will then identify a practical course of action and report back to the committee.
Clubhouse Cleaning Rota
As you may know, June has stepped down from her numerous duties, one of which was organising the monthly club-house cleaning rota. This arduous duty has been taken up by Sue Tilbrook and me, and we are hoping for two pieces of good fortune – firstly that all those on June’s rota last year will continue in 2020, and secondly that we can recruit a few newcomers. If we could get three or four new names, then this would mean that each pair would only have to do two sessions in the whole of this forthcoming year. Sue and I are planning to meet up at the clubhouse on the afternoon of Tuesday next week, 4th February, for a chat on how to proceed, so please join us there or let either of us know if you want to continue/join.
As an experiment David invited all GC players to join him in a series of Friday lunch-time meetings at the Blueberry Inn. The idea was that these meetings would be partly social and partly an opportunity to discuss golf croquet in our club. By having several small meetings it was hoped to enable better round table discussions.
Although not all GC players responded, two successful meetings were held and were both enjoyable and produced useful ideas that will be put into practice. The current plan is to repeat the experiment next year.
Heads-up for National Croquet Week 2020
The National Croquet Open Day in 2019 was a success for us. This year we plan two open afternoons, on Sat. 16th and Sun. 17th May. We’ll build on last year’s format. Please tell me (Paul) if you would like to help me with either the planning and reparation, or with being there on one or both days. At least, you could put the weekend in your diaries!
Qualifications as Coach, or as Assistant or Full Referee
Have you thought about learning how to coach others – you don’t have to be an expert player! – or of studying the Laws and Rules of your code? There are short courses coming up this Spring, and subsidies are available. I’d be very happy to run an extended AC Laws course here myself which ought to help you play, win arguments, and prepare you for a possible future referees or assistant referees course. Let me know if you are interested.
New Club Handicappers Appointed
I’m pleased to say that David Vincent has been appointed Club Handicapper (GC) and Joe King has been appointed Club Handicapper (AC). In their respective codes, David and Joe will be responsible for setting initial handicaps, ensuring the automatic handicap system (handicap cards) is working for you, and adjusting handicaps where appropriate outside the automatic system for players with handicaps down to 3 (GC) or 8 (AC). Watch out for improved handicap cards this coming season!
Court Closure – Update
This Newsletter as published in January contained only a summary of Joe King’s complete report, which you can read here on this web site. In short, we don’t know how soon the courts will dry out. Joe plans to inspect them and post again next week.
Wednesday 24th July, sunny and warm, and we entertained the Watford tourists at Blewbury for the eighth consecutive year, playing association croquet, mostly level advanced.
The morning’s games saw Joe King(-½) and Steve Fisher(11) lose -1 on time to Geoff Johnson (2½) and John Bee (8) at doubles, Nick Butler (-1) beat Simon Hathrell (-1) +11 after a flying start of hard, accurate shooting and a fourth-turn break, Avril Rangoni-Machiavelli (3) lose to Mark Homan (6) -10 (handicap), and Deirdre Cochrane (4) beat Andre Machell (6) +3 on time, for a match score of 2-2 at the half-way point.
Back on court after we’d all lunched together at the Blueberry, Joe and Avril lost -26 to Simon and Andre in the afternoon doubles (handicap advanced), Paul Wolff (4) lost -19 to Geoff (who had claimed at the start it was his turn to win in the long-standing series between these two), Deirdre lost -1 to Mark, but though Steve beat John +9 it wasn’t enough, and Watford ran out overall winners by 5 to 3 for a flying start to their summer tour.
Watford’s verdict: “We really do enjoy our visit to Blewbury and this year was every bit as good as ever (and the courts better than ever).” Blewbury’s response: Thank you for coming, and we hope to see you again next year.
Keith Pound (High Wycombe) won the annual Midweek Handicap (AC) tournament hosted jointly by the two clubs on 26/27 June, and retained the trophy he won last year.
The ‘home’ contestants, Andy Robertson and Steve Fisher (Blewbury) and Frances Colman, Raghu Iyer, and Richard Peperell (Phyllis Court), were also joined by Colin Britt (from Camerton & Peasedown in Somerset) and Liz Taylor-Webb (all the way from Bowdon in Cheshire) for the event, blessed once again by sunny midsummer weather. Blewbury’s home catering for lunch was praised (thank you, June!), the lawns were newly mown (thank you, Mick!) and white-lined and in excellent condition (thank you, everyone else who had a hand in it!), and all we lacked seemed to be the shade of a pop-up gazebo on the day.